It was 1970. The country was caught in the midst of a cultural revolution and a never ending war. The establishment was being questioned and overturned. The media was increasingly becoming a vehicle for liberation and awareness. However, the country’s newsrooms were companies with sexist and racist hiring practices. Men got the credit but the women did all the work, with one third of the pay.
That was until a group of 46 women from Newsweek magazine sued their bosses, demanding equal pay and opportunity. They wanted to be reporters, and Newsweek wasn’t letting them progress their efforts. With the help of their lawyer, the legendary Eleanor Holmes Norton, the women won.
This provides the background for Amazon’s new series, Good Girls Revolt. The main character, Patti Robinson (Genevieve Angelson), focuses on her journey to rally the polite, well mannered girls in News of the Week‘s newsroom to action. She does so secretly to avoid being fired. The show wonderfully depicts the sexism, racism and often daily instances of sexual assault that women had to endure for a job where they were devalued and underpaid.
The show is overall well put together and well written. The characters are compelling and developed. Besides the slight tendency to slip off topic, the writing is solid. You really understand what it was like to be denied the thing you want the most.
The most compelling–and heartbreaking–part about Good Girls Revolt is watching the simple injustices committed against the women on every level. Whether it is being told to get coffee, or being asked their waist size during interviews, it serves as a poignant reminder of the discrimination women faced–and still face–in the workplace. Many of the women were hired purely based on how they look.
One especially revolting incident was when the men were choosing what picture to put on the cover of that weeks magazine. The cover story was about the women’s liberation movement (ironically). The men decided that Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem weren’t attractive enough warrant a place on the front.
Good Girls Revolt is ultimately about more than one newsroom. It’s about every woman who was ever questioned for pursuing a career or experienced unwanted sexual advances by a boss or partner. It’s about every woman who ever rebelled against a system stacked against her. It’s a testament to the true power and force of not only the Woman’s Liberation Movement but to the power of women as a whole.
The show also serves as a reminder that sex discrimination isn’t a thing of the past. It’s easy to think the feminist movement is over. It’s easy to look at Hillary Clinton, Beyoncé, Angela Merkel or any other successful woman and think sexism is over. However, women still only make 82 cents to a man’s dollar, less if you’re a woman of color. Only 38 percent of newsroom staff are women. The feminist movement isn’t over. Like the civil and LGBTQA+ rights movements, feminism can never end. It can only continually evolve to fit the needs of the time we live in.
Good Girls Revolt is an intelligent, thoughtful reminder of how far we’ve come, and how much we have left to do. It pays tribute to the dissatisfied woman who trudged through the day thinking there must be something better than this. The Newsweek women were a small battalion in an army of angry women that changed the world. By standing up for their rights, they stood up for women everywhere.
Women of Newsweek, the female journalists of today (and tomorrow) salute you.
Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of Good Girls Revolt on Facebook.
Sara Karlovitch is a freshman journalism and government and politics major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.